Newcastle United will look to revive their season on Saturday, but will have to do so without Netherlands International Sven Botman.

The Magpies were dealt yet another injury blow at the beginning of the International break. Former Lille man Botman has undergone knee surgery and is expected to miss six to nine months of action.

This is obviously a huge blow to the Dutchman personally with the European Championships just around the corner, but it also leaves a hole at the heart of the Newcastle defence for the remaining 10 league games and beyond.

Botman brings a lot of defensive qualities to the side, even if he has been notably below-par since his knee problems started earlier in the season. Not only does he read the game well, but pre-injury his calmness on the ball was a big part of Newcastle's playing out from the back last season.

He also formed a formidable partnership with Fabian Schar as the Magpies excelled defensively on their way to Champions League qualification. Here we assess the replacement options available to Eddie Howe ahead of the visit of West Ham this weekend.

The Skipper

Perhaps the most logical choice would be to bring in captain Jamaal Lascelles. Botman has already been restricted to just 20 first-team appearances across all competitions this season and for the majority of those absences, it was Lascelles who partnered Fabian Schar at centre-back.

That included impressive wins over PSG, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United but also less impressive afternoons against Bournemouth, Everton and Tottenham. More recently, it was a Lascelles mistake which led to Blackburn forcing extra time in the FA Cup at Ewood Park last month.

Howe often goes the conventional route with his team selection and it would be considered a surprise if Lascelles is overlooked from the start on Saturday.

The Giant

One alternative would be to field Dan Burn at centre back, moving over from the left back berth he has so often occupied this season. Howe chose to pair Schar and Burn away at Brighton back in August, a game Botman missed through injury, but a disastrous afternoon for the Magpies saw Evan Ferguson score a hat-trick as Brighton ran out 3-1 winners.

Burn has operated almost exclusively at left-back since this south-coast nightmare. It was however Howe’s preferred partnership during the 21/22 season before Botman arrived at the club.

Howe might prefer a right foot-left foot partnership at the back for balance and it might also allow him to find a place for a more conventional full-back.

If Kieran Trippier and Tino Livramento both return from injury they could lineup on either side of the back four. Alternatively, the returning Matt Targett could come back into the side or the on-loan Lewis Hall may finally be given some more minutes. Hall has made only 11 appearances in all competitions despite being available for the majority of the season, which has been a topic of debate amongst fans.

Best of both

Although Newcastle have lined up with four at the back in almost all of their matches this season, it is worth noting they switched to a back five in their previous game. Granted, this was away at Manchester City where defensive reinforcements are imperative, but could Howe stick with the same formation for the visit of the Hammers?

That would see Schar, Lascelles and Burn operate in a back three with Trippier and any one of Livramento, Hall or Targett on the left. The news of Lewis Miley being ruled out for around six weeks reduces the Magpies’ numbers in midfield which might be another reason to switch to a two-man central midfield and a front three, but this would be quite a lot of changes.

There has at least been an International break for Howe and his coaching team to work on something new, although several of the squad have been away with their countries.

David Moyes’ side have a reputation for being a threat from set pieces due to the giant Tomas Soucek but the statistics tell a different story. West Ham are a surprising 13th in the overall number of set-piece goals this season, so it would seem excessive to try and plan to counteract this.

A surprise?

There are some left-field options which Howe could consider. Newcastle won two Carabao Cup ties against Manchester City and Manchester United with Paul Dummett playing centre-back, partnering Lascelles and Emil Krafth respectively.

The veteran Welsh International would be the most surprising of picks, even if he has proved very able in these two victories. Krafth meanwhile has mostly operated in his natural right-back position so although he could play at centre-back, it would likely be the result of a large number of absentees in the Magpies backline.

We may get some clues from Howe when he speaks to the press on Friday morning, with the game scheduled for 12.30pm on Saturday.